(16 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

seriously, Payola??

Beautiful delivery, Arvis, that was an ace!

I only wish I'd read this before picks for New York closed where I foolishly picked MacDonald and RHarrison for the semis... arrrrgh!!  very cunning, Arvis


(2 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

I don't ever remember anyone getting the whole first round right, so this is already historic!

LOVING these summaries, Arvis!  Keep it coming!!


(16 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

So, Torpegaard tropedoed again...  I love it!

Incidentally I saw Lloyd Harris play the challenger here in Vancouver a couple summers ago and the guy is a stick - seriously, he makes Djokovic look like Jabba.

These write ups are so amazing and awesome, Arvis!  I love how you notice the trends and follow up on 'where are they now'.  Serious respect for you!


(16 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

"the most fertile semifinal yet"
ABSOlutely love it Arvis!  Super entertaining read and highly informative - must take hours to put together.
Thank you thank you!!


(70 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

Thanks Murreee! smile


(24 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

anyone still alive with a GQ?


(70 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

Why Murray belongs in the Big Four
16 Jan 2019 – Charles Friesen
(This post is also available with better tables here https://tennisgut.blogspot.com/2019/01/ … -four.html

Talk of the Big Four has been going on for about ten years in tennis.   Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray have dominated the men’s game in the last decade.  But while Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic are into the teens in their slam title counts, Murray has three.  And there is another active player with three as well, Stan Wawrinka.  So is it exaggeration to put Murray in the Big Four and not Stan?

I’m not going to try to talk about the qualitative aspects of their respective games, Murray and Wawrinka, who plays better or whose style is more robust, or even about their direct match-up which is slightly in Murray’s favour (11-8).  And by no means is this an attempt to knock Stan down a peg.  Rather I think the numbers show that Murray’s performance over the past 10 years elevates him to the level of an elite player in a way that Stan’s does not.

Of course both have faced the enormous task of winning slams in era of all-time greats.  The big three have over 50 slam titles among them.  There have not been a lot of crumbs to go around. So for Murray and Wawrinka to claim even three slams has been a monumental accomplishment.  There’s no question that the other three of the Big Four have out-shone Murray – he’s clearly fourth of the four – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong.

Let’s start with the big titles.  Stan has three slams and one 1000 title.  Andy has three slams, one Tour Final, two Olympic golds, and fourteen 1000’s. I think any objective judgment must be that Murray’s record is vastly superior on the big title front.  Wawrinka has four of the big titles of his era, whereas Murray has 20. And this I think is illustrative of Murray’s dominance.  Or perhaps ‘dominance’ is not the right word – it’s more like ‘his part of the dominance’ or hegemony of the top players in this generation.  They have largely shut out all the other players from repeated success on the big title stages.

And not only has Murray been winning many big titles, he’s been winning titles of all descriptions.  The ATP lists him with 45 titles.  About triple Wawrinka’s 16.  Looking at ATP title leaders in the Open Era (since 1968 when tennis became open to professionals):

ATP titles   
Connors    109
Federer    99
Lendl    94
Nadal    80
McEnroe    77
Djokovic    72
Sampras, Borg    64
Vilas    62
Agassi    60
Nastase    58
Becker    49
Laver    46
Murray    45

This is elite company.  And Murray is ahead of such luminaries as Edberg and Wilander, (and nearly double Courier).  What this suggests is that Murray would be in the upper echelon of other eras. Probably his slam count is low for his other accomplishments, and it seems perfectly reasonable that this should be the case given his era.

Looking at just 1000 level tournaments, Murray is fifth on the list published by the ATP with 14 wins.  This is three ahead of Sampras.  If we extend the 1000 list, which goes back to 1990, a little further to 1970 at the dawn of the Open Era and include the nine Grand Prix Super Series tournaments, he is ninth on the list.

1000 and Super Series titles   
Nadal    33
Djokovic    32
Federer    27
Lendl    22
McEnroe    19
Connors, Agassi    17
Borg    15
Murray    14
Becker    13
Sampras    11

There’s no doubt in my mind that based on his title-winning hi-jinks, Murray is in elite company, quite far ahead of Courier, Kuerten, Hewitt, and Wawrinka and most other 2-to-4-slam winners who may also be yearend #1’s.

Although Murray has only three slam titles, he played in 11 slam finals.  His match winning percentage in the slams is much more like 6- to 8-slam holders.  He is the 13th best in the Open Era in match winning percentage.  The list is led by Borg, Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, and Laver in the first five spots.  On this list Murray is immediately ahead of Becker, Wilander, Edberg, Ashe, Courier and Vilas.  Positions 6 to 12 are Sampras, Rosewall, Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, Newcombe, and Agassi.  At Wimbledon, Murray has the 8th best record of the Open Era, ahead of McEnroe and Connors.

Head to heads
I looked at the head to head records of all players who had won a slam in the Open Era – 54 men in this group.  But in this elite company of only slam winners, the men who have more winning records than losing ones are the best of the best.  There are 15 men who qualify, including all of the Big Four.  Of course, with active players, these numbers can still change, but here they are, as they stand.

    # of other slam winners played    % against which he has a winning record
Nadal    16    87.5%
Borg    22    86.4%
Becker    29    75.9%
Djokovic    12    75.0%
Lendl    31    74.2%
Federer    23    73.9%
Sampras    27    70.4%
Murray    12    66.7%
Laver    14    64.3%
Agassi    32    62.5%
Hewitt    24    58.3%
McEnroe    30    56.7%
Courier    23    56.5%
Wilander    25    56.0%
Connors    32    53.1%
For Laver, as for all others, this only includes Open Era matches and rivalries.

Again, Murray is in elite company, at eighth on this list.  However there is no question that Murray is fourth of the Big Four.  Looking directly at the head to heads of the Big Four plus Wawrinka, Djokovic has a winning record against the other four players, Nadal against three, Federer against two, Murray against one, and Stan against none.  However in the total matches won vs lost against this group, Nadal leads the way.

    Winning h2h    Total won    Total lost    Win %
Nadal    3 (Fed, Mur, Waw)    82    52    61.2%
Djokovic    4 (Nad, Fed, Mur, Waw)    96    63    60.4%
Federer    2 (Mur, Waw)    72    62    53.7%
Murray    1 (Waw)    40    64    38.5%
Wawrinka    0    19    68    21.8%

I think probably the main reason Murray found a place in the Big Four has to do with the rankings.  Starting in 2008, Murray finished the year in the top four of the rankings six straight times, eight times in total, culminating in #1 in 2016.  For five straight years, the Big Four did not allow interlopers into the top four yearend rankings.  So this is obviously the source of the nick name, ‘Big Four.’

To be fair, Wawrinka later finished in the yearend top four 3 times.  But three is less than Murray’s eight and in two of those years, Murray was ahead of him.

With lots of hard numbers at my disposal I decided to take a more rigorous approach and construct a top ten index.  A simple top ten index might, for example, give 1 point for yearend #10, 2 points for #9, 3 for #8, etc.  But that seemed like an oversimplification to me.  Is being #6 (worth 5 points) really five times better than being #10?  Such a schema would tend to overestimate the top players.

Using ATP points it turns out that #6 is only about 1.35 times better than #10 – that is, on average the #6 player earns 1.35 more ATP points during a year than the #10 player.  I used the actual yearend points top-ten players earned from 1990 to 2018, (adjusting for changes to the ATP points structure over the years).  Where players had pre-1990 top-ten finishes, I used the average points at that position.

Murray finished 10th on the list, between Edberg and Becker.  Perhaps those are his comparables in their era.  Hewitt was 18th, Courier 26th, Wawrinka 27th, Kuerten 29th.  These are the total number of points players earned in years they finished in the computer top ten.

Sum of ATP points when in yearend top ten   
Federer    158,160
Connors    128,236
Nadal    127,750
Djokovic    121,660
Lendl    102,075
Agassi    94,500
Sampras    86,394
McEnroe    83,044
Becker    70,205
Murray    67,430
Borg    65,583
Edberg    63,178
Vilas    55,898
Roddick    48,545
Wilander    48,050

Again, Murray is in the thick of this elite company.  It’s interesting to see Andy Roddick near the end of this list – another good player victimized by a difficult era.  What I am trying to do with this list is show how much a player accomplished in their career.  They earned points at tournaments – and maximized their points when they won titles.  Of course, some players had short careers, like Borg or Wilander, but I am hesitant to give these players special treatment since, for whatever reason, they did not have the physical or mental fortitude to accomplish more.

Final thoughts
Murray has demonstrated tennis at the highest level over multiple years.  His numbers in titles, rankings, and head to head against other slam winners suggest that he is a top level player in the conversation with multi-slam winning yearend #1s.  In fact he is a multi-slam winning yearend #1.  But his total of grand slam titles is not high compared to other men in his position.  He is clearly behind the big three of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, making him the clear fourth of the Big Four.  But his body of work is also clearly far ahead of other three-ish slam winners like Wawrinka, Kuerten, or Courier.  He has won many more big titles than them, and outranked them consistently and over a longer period of time.

All of this suggests that Murray deserves a place among the best of the open era, slightly below the very best, but at least as good as Becker, Edberg, and Wilander.  There is no other man of his era, outside of the big three, who has come close to accomplishing what he has done, and that is why he is one of the Big Four.


(12 replies, posted in Australian Open)

Very Nice Arnie!

oops looks like that post from Bigmoose disappeared saying he'd spoken with Andreescu the last 2 years in England...

Fascinating Bigmoose!
How did you come to speak with her?

With the Aus Open looming I was curious about the predictability of the eventual winner.
Since we now have a lot of great data I dove into the TDC stats.

It shows that only 3 pickers on TDC out of 569 who made 2018 USO draws correctly picked Osaka as the winner.  That's 0.53%.  However, 1.05% (6 pickers) correctly put her in the finals and 15.3% correctly picked Serena for the final.

For the other slams in 2018, 7.0% picked Kerber to win Wimbledon, 28.5% picked Halep at RG, and 12.6% picked Wozniacki for AO.  That's an average of 12.2% for each slam. in 2018.

We have 3 years of data:
Women's slams
2018 - 12.2% correct winner picks
2017 - 7.8%
2016 - 19.8%

Of these last 12 slams, in 7 of them less than 10% of pickers correctly named the winner.
2018 USO - Osaka - 0.53%
2018 Wim - Kerber - 7.0%
2017 USO - Stephens - 0.0 %
2017 Wim - Muguruza - 1.9%
2017 Fre - Ostapenko - 0.0%
2017 Fre - Muguruzua - 5.9%
2016 Aus - Kerber - 0.0%

Most of those were first time winners, but two of them were not.  And when Wozniacki and Halep won their firsts, they were above the 10% line.

Not surprisingly, Serena's 2016 Wim victory was the most predicted at 56.1%.

How did the Yoda crew measure up?
2018 - 12.2%
2017 - 10.9%
2016 - 31.3%
It appears that while we were better than the field in 2016, they had closed the gap by 2018.  Hopefully we don't fall behind in 2019!!

I also looked at how good we were at predicting the finalists.
whole site
2018 - winner - 12.2%
2018 - w as finalist - 22.1%
2018 - runnerup - 19.1%

yoda crew
2018 - winner - 12.2%
2018 - w as finalist - 21.5%
2018 - runnerup - 19.4%

So basically in all three categories the yoda crew was matched by the whole site.

Considering the 3 categories, again, the yoda crew did better than the rest of the site in 2017 and 2016

whole site (winner, w as finalist, runnerup)
2018 - 12.2%, 22.1%, 19.1%
2017 - 7.8%, 11.5%. 17.3%
2016 - 19.8%, 38.6%, 37.1%

yoda crew
2018 - 12.2%, 21.5%. 19.4%
2017 - 10.9%, 15.6%, 15.2%
2016 - 31.3%, 55.3%, 47.1%

In looking at the men, we have four years of data.
The men have definitely been more predictable than the women.
The yoda crew has consistently out-performed the field by a small margin, although we are least successful in picking the runner up.

whole site (winner, w as finalist, runnerup)
2018 - 44.7%, 65.2%, 13.0%
2017 - 40.7%, 46.1%. 17.3%
2016 - 40.1%, 62.9%, 48.8%
2015 - 34.4%, 61.8%, 51.0%

yoda crew
2018 - 61.0%, 81.0%. 6.7%
2017 - 47.1%, 49.9%, 17.7%
2016 - 52.9%, 78.1%, 56.4%
2015 - 40.1%, 66.7%, 45.1%

Looking at participation in the slam tournaments by pickers.
The women's numbers have been roughly stable for the last 5 slams
# participants by slam
yr - U W F A
2018 - 569, 555, 534, 573
2017 - 569, 471, 343, 360
2016 - 288, 367, 323, 135

for the men the trend has been steadily upward
2018 - 995, 962, 937, 907
2017 - 865, 780, 575, 421
2016 - 304, 432, 376, 182
2015 - 61, 63, 46, 15


(3 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

I don't think the Davis Cup will ever be as important as it was in it's first 25 years (1900-1925).  Up until that time it was seen as the primary mechanism to determine world yearend #1.

It was the World Championship.  They didn't have computers and the slams didn't really come into existence until 1925.  And even then, the slams (at least some of them) weren't that important.  So, for example, Maurice McLoughlin was regarded as the world #1 for 1914 even though he didn't win any slams.  But he took his nation to the Davis Cup and beat the world's other two best players in the process.

When the Davis Cup was founded in 1900, the whole point was that the Americans thought they were as good (possibly better?) than the Brits.  As the inventors of the game the Brits had more time to practise it and more interest in the game (at first) than any other country.  So they were the best at it.

For example, Richard Sears, who was the undisputed American champion winning the first seven US Opens (Championships) travelled to England to play the best players there in the mid 1880's and was found to be a whole level below the top British players.

But by the late 1890's the Americans were starting to suspect that they were at least as good as the Brits and maybe better than them in doubles.  So the Americans issued a challenge and the first Cup was held in 1900 on American soil.  The US won the first two cups, even beating four time Wimbledon singles champ Reg Doherty and it became an open question as to who was #1 in 1900-1902 with Reg and Laurie Doherty, Mal Whitman, and William Larned all as plausible candidates.  Whitman had retired by the start of 1903 (age 25), and Laurie Doherty distinguished himself as the definitive #1 claiming, Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Davis Cup, going undefeated for the entire year of 1903.

The slam tournaments did not exist in the public consciousness at that time.  It turned out that when the US went to the UK to challenge for the Davis Cup they also played Wimbledon, and when Britain went to the US for the Davis Cup, they also played the US Chps.  Then when Australia started winning the cup in 1907 - the Aus Chps also received some foreign big name players.  But the main attraction was always the Davis Cup.

Duane Williams was an American who was trying to organize an international tennis federation.  This became the ITF.  It was founded in 1913 as the ILTF, but the Americans did not join.  They possibly would have joined if Williams had been alive, but he died in the Titanic sinking in 1912 (his son survived the crash and won the US Chps twice in 1914 and 1916).  There was a fight between the ILTF and the Americans.  The ILTF named three world championship tournaments, all in Europe. (these were the fore runners to the slams) The Americans thought the World Championship should be controlled by the Davis Cup (which they had founded), and did not like the idea of the world championships all being in Europe.

Eventually a compromise was reached and the world championship tournaments were stripped of their designations for 1924.  The US joined the ILTF and the four championships of the US, UK, France, and Australia were recognized as primary (thus starting the idea of the four slams).  In 1924 the French Chps were not held, instead the Olympics were in Paris that year, and in 1925, all four slam tournaments were played but only open to amateurs. (and there were no significant pro players at that time)

But in 1927, Suzanne Lenglen went pro and in 1931 Bill Tilden did.  They were by far the two biggest stars of tennis in the 1920's.  Going pro meant mostly playing a travelling tour of matches - like concerts - called 'barnstorming' in those days for whatever reason.  So from about the early 30's the best players (at least the men) were usually pros and not amateurs, so neither the Davis Cup nor the slam tournaments were determining the #1 player in the world. 

When Jack Crawford in 1933 nearly won all four slams, and Budge in 1938 did win all four, then the slams really came to prominence as the most important in the AMATEUR game, overshadowing the Davis Cup.  But since everyone knew the best players were actually professionals, there was increasing call to allow professionals to play the slams.

But the ILTF (it changed its name to ITF in 1977) didn't want to give up all the money they were making from tournaments to the pros, so they stone-walled them until 1967, when Wimbledon led the way and declared that in 1968 it would be "Open" to all, starting the Open Era of tennis.

In the meantime, the Davis Cup had slowly faded in importance to what it is today.  It's an interesting team competition, but because we have the slams, it will never be the World Championship or determine #1 the way it used to.  It will never be the World Cup of tennis.  At least, that's my opinion...


(3 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

up until 1914, the format of the Davis Cup was similar to the 'new' proposal for 2019.  Typically the competing nations all assembled in one country and played the whole tournament there.  There were some minor exceptions - sometimes it was more convenient to play an early tie elsewhere.

So, for example, in 1914, 4 of the 6 ties were played in the US - more or less back to back - but two of the ties, between just European countries were played in Europe as a preliminary.

But in 1919, the format with home and away ties became more like we've been used to in the past 100 years.  In 1923, they first divided into zones, so that nations wouldn't have to travel too far to play tie - this was because there were a few defaults due to travel length in 1922 and 1921.


(21 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

Nice Karlovic pick, Arvis!


(16 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

well TE, you're 9th overall in Padme and I'm 12th... so don't complain too loudly! smile

As a Canadian I can say this...
our women are all jack rabbits - all sprint and no finish!

the five most highly ranked Cdn female players of all time all peaked at age 21 or less:  Bouchard, Bassett, Kelesi, Wozniak, and Marino...
Bouchard #5 age 20
Bassett #8 age 17
Kelesi #13 age 20
Wozniack #21 age 21
Marino #38 age 20

also there was Hy-Boulais but she didn't become a Canuck until age 23 (so she missed the trend and peaked at #28 age 27)

That said, I would LOVE it for Andreescu and Bouchard to have huge success this year!!


(27 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

Congrats everyone!
Thanks Tony for stick-handling this!

So Fed wins and Edu can be crowned R2D2 champ for the year... ANOTHER glorious victory for our local ubermensch.

Congrats Edu!!

So R2D2 now rests in the hands of Nishikori for me.  I'm in the unenviable position of needing the Glass Prince to beat KAnderson and then Federer.  Otherwise the crown goes to Edu.  His head must be getting heavy! smile

So R2D2 comes down to Arnie, me and (no surprise) Edu!  my last shot at glory for this year

Edu has me by 5 points and I'm 12 ahead of Arnie so far but we've got a lot of different match picks to settle the score...
Arnie has Simon over Thiem and Medvedev
Edu has Medvedev over Coric and Thiem
I've got Coric over Medvedev and Thiem
it's a nasty little section and any of the four players look like reasonable choices - surprisingly none of us picked Thiem to emerge to the QF

Other QF differences are
Arnie and I have Isner, but Edu has Khachs
Arnie and Edu have KAndy, but I have Nishikori
Edu and I both have Cilic, but Arnie has RBA

Moving to the semis
Arnie has Isner and Anderson
Edu has Zverev and Fed
and I have Zverev and the glass prince

If Arnie is still within 12 pts after the semis he can overtake with Isner as a finalist.  Then we all picked Djo to win

Huge Congrats to Edu!!

Aw shucks, Arvis.  Thanks.
back atcha...


(150 replies, posted in Other Tournaments)

Way to go, Tenedab!!
Truly impressive.

I'd like to point out that I finished 7th despite missing 7 tournaments, but I'd only be drawing attention to myself...

Things can only get better, right?

Goal for next year:  compete in all the tournaments and beat out HTS for most incorrect picks.